Perhaps hitting the zeitgeist with an increase in working from home during the Covid-19 outbreak, online gaming entrepreneur Mr Romeo Fhowk has developed an eCommuter world called ‘Desk Warrior’ which he says he hopes to launch on Zwift, Peloton and other home trainers soon.
Many of us will be familiar with existing options such as climbing Alpe d’Huez, or racing round the Giro d’Italia. The new Desk Warrior e-commute options give riders the chance to pit their wits against rush hour traffic in London, New York, and Amsterdam.
‘We see this as a great addition to the e-training market’ said Mr Fhowk. ‘Home workers often feel that they miss out on some of the experiences of being in the workplace: the water-cooler chat, the Christmas party, the dressing for the office. With our new commuter worlds, home workers can still experience the hustle and bustle of the commute from the comfort of their home’.
The eCommuter experience will vary according to the city you choose. New York brings with it the option to choose a fixie, seek out bonus short cuts through abandoned subways, and even has a rollerblade option. Speeds are reduced if you clip a wing mirror as you squeeze through lines of traffic – clip too many and an altercation with a driver will see you late for work, or you may find yourself delayed via a slower ‘penalty diversion’.
London offers eCommuters the chance to experience patchy cycle infrastructure, with some cycle lanes leading your randomly up onto pavements before returning you to the road at right angles to fast flowing traffic. Figuring out which routes work and which don’t is part of the fun, and it gives you a chance to race your office mates to work. If you don’t have any friends, there’s a cycle courier simulation, so you can race them to your destination – beware of following them and staying on their wheel though, as they’re liable to have you gathering penalty points.
‘To encourage safe cycling, e-commuters who jump red lights, blow through stop signs or take the road will be given penalty points.’ These penalty points are translated into simulated gradients – so bad cycling will result in your commute being a significant uphill slog. If the gradient is too much for you, you can opt to ride a Dutch bike with back pedal brake and three gears for your next commute – if you behave, you’ll be able to earn your usual ride back again.
In Amsterdam you’ll find that the biggest obstacle is other cyclists. Efforts to go fast will be frustrated, but if you add a child seat to your ride and do the school drop off and shopping on your way to or from school you’ll be able to unlock special short cut features. Similarly, the wearing of ‘normal’ clothes will ease your passage to the office, as the simulation will put fewer cyclists in your way.
To keep the competition fair, you’ll be able to stipulate whether you’re carrying a laptop, wearing a suit, or riding a Brompton. Desk Warrior’s backers are keen for big corporates to sign up saying ‘It’s really important to maintain office cohesion and camaraderie when you have a large number of home workers. If you have a major city centre office, our corporate eCommuter membership includes an additional simulation of the office changing rooms and bike stores. We’re sure that getting to work before all the lockers are taken will encourage your home workers to pedal to their desks bright and early, increasing productivity while also discouraging the laziness that often comes with home working.’
The eCommuter simulator usually uses live traffic information to replicate real-world road conditions, meaning that there’s an infinite amount of variation on what you may encounter on your e-commute. Weather too will vary, with resistance on your trainer being upped to replicate any headwind. For now, with roads being extra quiet thanks to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, archive traffic data is being used. ‘We want to replicate the adrenaline rush and peril that comes with the rush hour commute’ explained Desk Warrior creators ‘current conditions are so quiet, there’s barely any risk involved at all – who wants that?’.
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